Universal Lodge No. 1 Worshipful Master McArthur Myers, second from right, poses with other Brethren Oct. 24 as the first Prince Hall Masonic Lodge held a meeting at the George Washington National Masonic Memorial.
“This historic event…was well attended by Brethren from Masonic Lodges in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.” —George Segher, Executive Director, George Washington National Masonic Memorial
In 1845, 17 years before the Emancipation Proclamation, Universal Lodge #1 in Alexandria became the first Lodge to be organized by African American men in the Commonwealth of Virginia and marked the introduction of Prince Hall Masonry into the state. On Oct. 24, Universal Lodge #1 again made history by becoming the first Prince Hall Masonic Lodge to hold an official meeting at the George Washington National Masonic Memorial.
“On Oct. 24, I was honored and pleased to welcome to the Memorial the Brethren of Universal Lodge # 1,” said George Segher, executive director of the Masonic Memorial. “This historic event was the first Prince Hall Affiliated Masonic Lodge to meet in the Memorial and was well attended by Brethren from Masonic Lodges in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.”
The Lodge began as the Prince Hall Free Masonry on Feb. 5, 1845, in what was then Alexandria, D.C. It was created by three seaman, William Dudley, Sandy Bryant and Benjamin Crier, who had been initiated Masons at the St. George Lodge #32 in Liverpool, England. They settled in Alexandria in 1838 and became members of Social Lodge #7 of Washington, D.C.
The lodge began to function on Aug. 26, 1845 with George Sims as Worshipful Master. Charter members included Ephraim Bancroft, Dennis Bourbon, Pete Costin, Edward Evans, James Evans, Richard Garrett, Joseph L. Gibson, Alfred Hamilton, the Rev. Robert H. Robinson (P.G.M.), and George Sims.
Universal Lodge #1 held regular meetings on the second floor of a house at 424 S. Royal St. in a section of Alexandria known as Hayti.
“Several Grand Lodge officers were in attendance,” said Universal Lodge #1 Worshipful Master McArthur Myers, who worked with Segher to facilitate the event. “Other Brethren visited from Lodges throughout the region to participate in what was a historic event for all Lodges.”